Auto Taking You for a Ride? It’s Abduction!
A recent news article carried yet another horror story of auto-rickshaw-driver-terror. A woman and child insisted on being ferried home and got into the vehicle. To teach the duo a lesson, the driver took them on a long detour, scaring them and adding to their agony. The ordeal ended with the passengers reaching their destination at long last and the driver being mildly penalised and allowed to go. The issues here are: Was the driver entitled to create panic? Was the fact that the passengers were safe at the end, a compensating factor? Was his ‘punishment’ adequate or appropriate? Were the police complicit in letting the abductor go? Should they be punished as well? You be the judge.
We believe that this was nothing short of abduction, unlawful restraint and terrorising. The penalty—imprisonment—can be as long as seven years, (Sectio 362+ of the IPC). The cops aided and abetted through dereliction of duty and filing incomplete reports, violating the Police Act. Now, you be the judge.
Currency Notes from Chemicals?
A woman walks into a police station with a complaint. She has, she claims, been cheated of Rs25 lakh and she wants her money back. She wants the police to help her. What is her story? The interesting part begins here.
The woman is a doctor and one does not become a doctor without some intelligence. How then was she duped? The good doctor met three conmen who had some ‘special’ chemicals that could produce duplicate currency notes, no less. Yes, the same notes that we normal, unlucky humans work our butts off to buy the next square meal! The lucky doctor had visions of minting money—literally. All she needed to do was pay ‘just 25 lakh rupees’ to this alchemist, which she promptly did. After all, opportunity never knocks twice. However, the three conmen kept on stringing her along for months when the doctor realised it was a con. Should the police register this complaint? Should they follow it up? Must an FIR be lodged? You be the judge.
The problem revolves around the law relating to contracts in India. An important point to be noted is that no one can enter into a contract that is illegal in the eyes of the law. One cannot agree to a contract to steal from a third person. Or to make life miserable for someone. Even trying to break up a marriage is illegal. So, if one asks someone else to create friction between a husband and wife, it is breaking the law. Simply put, two or more people cannot agree to do something, in other words enter into a contract, to carry out an illegality. The contract is void Ab initio, meaning from the start.
Now, the doctor enters into a contract with the ‘chemical specialist’ and pays him a sum of money, called ‘consideration’. The contract is complete. But printing money, or trying to print it, is a serious offence; even if the equipment did not work. The intention of duplicating money is attempted forgery of the highest degree. The very act of trying to do so is punishable. The term is up to seven years plus a fine. So does one go to the police and complain that she was duped in a patently criminal process? Well, the cops should have arrested the doctor for a crime. The police are guilty of dereliction of duty. They, too, should be asked to explain their conduct rather than everyone laughing it away. What you do think? You be the judge. Write to us.
A New Column on Real-Life Legal Situations
Laws that govern our rights, life and liberty are complicated. We become aware of them only when we have a brush with them. One way to increase our awareness of the various laws is by discussing real-life cases. This is exactly what Bapoo Malcolm, a conscientious practising lawyer in Mumbai, will do—beginning with this issue. We invite readers to share their thoughts on each of the items because, as Bapoo says, “You be the Judge”. Email us at [email protected] or [email protected] – Editor
Food & Supplies Department at the GNCTD prepared a ration card in someone else's name and despite a direct order from the FAA it asked the applicant to file another application for a duplicate ration card. This is the 103rd in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal, directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Food & Supplies Department (FSD) at the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to provide a ration card to the applicant, else file a police complaint for the loss and send a compliance report.
While giving this judgement on 24 June 2009, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “This incident shows the extremely callous attitude of the department that is meant to offer public service. This reinforces the need for the department to comply with Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act and put up details of those who apply for ration cards/BPL cards, date on which cards are given to them and reasons for rejections, if any, on the website.”
New Delhi resident Neema Gupta, on 1 May 2008 sought information regarding issue of a ration card to her, from the PIO of Food & Supplies Department, at GNCTD. Here is the information she sought under the RTI Act and the reply given by the PIO...
1. Why the delay for issue of a new ration card in the name of Neema Gupta for more than three years?
PIO's reply: Ration card bearing number No. 09020072 was prepared in the name of Bimla Devi.
2. Who is responsible for this delay?
PIO's reply: There has not been any delay in preparation of the ration card.
3. Who are the officers responsible for this delay and harassment?
PIO's reply” In view of I&II, the above question does not arise.
4. What action was taken in this matter?
PIO's reply: Since you did not turn up to collect the ration card, the same was sent to the headquarter.
Not satisfied with the reply, the applicant filed her first appeal. In his order, on 22 July 2008 the First Appellate Authority (FAA) said, “The ration card of the appellant was prepared by the PIO as the family details exist in the database of the department but the same was not delivered to the appellant and the appellant is running here and there to obtain her ration card. I, therefore, directed the PIO i.e. Asstt. Commissioner (Sought-West) to complete necessary formalities and prepare the ration card to the appellant and deliver it to her within a period of 10 days from today.”
However, after failing to receive her ration card, Neema Gupta, the applicant, then approached the CIC with her second appeal.
During the hearing before Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, the PIO accepted that he had not complied with the order of FAA in terms of giving the ration card to the appellant. He claimed that he sent a letter no127 dated 31 July 2008 by FSO-Circle (9) asking her (Gupta) to apply for a duplicate ration card.
The Commission pointed out to the respondent that the information provided to the appellant in reply to the original RTI Application on 21 May 2008 stated that ration card bearing no09020072 was prepared in the name of Bimla Devi. The FAA, DP Dwivedi, additional commissioner (SW) had asked for the card to be supplied in 10 days by his order of 22 July 2008.
The Commission asked the PIO why a duplicate card was sought to be made when the original card was not delivered.
The PIO said, “...in compliance of FAA's order the then FSO-Circle(9) Amodh Bhartwal—as informed by him on phone—tried to find out the card form the record of the circle office but the ration card was not traceable. Hence we personally sent a copy of application for a duplicate ration card. The then FSO and assistant commissioner tried their best and left no stone unturned to trace the ration card.”
Gupta told the Commission that she has been pursuing this ration card since 2006 but did not get any reply form the department. Her father-in-law had gone to the department four to five times and he was told that the ration card will be available if he paid a bribe, this was in 2006. The FAA had told her that the ration card was active and therefore she feels that the ration card is probably being misused.
Mr Gandhi then asked the PIO whether ration could not have been stolen or misused. The PIO stated that he would like to search for the ration card again.
The Commission then directed the PIO to deliver the ration card personally to Bimla Devi before 10 July 2009. “The PIO will either give the ration card to Ms Bimla Devi before 10 July 2009 or file a police complaint for loss of the ration card and ensure that another card issued to Bimla Devi and Neema Gupta. The PIO will send a compliance report with photocopies of the cards and police complaints applicable to the Commission before 20 July 2009,” the CIC said in its order while allowing the appeal.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Decision No. CIC/SG/C/2009/900066/3820
Appeal No. CIC/SG/C/2009/900066
Complainant : Neema Gupta
Respondent : GS Dhodi
PIO & Asstt. Commissioner (South-West)
Govt. of N.C.T. of Delhi
Food & Supplies Department,
Office of the Asstt. Commissioner (SW)
Qutub Institutional Area in Delhi.